Access Vikings

Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


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Vikings stand pat at the NFL's trade deadline

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated October 28th at 4:02pm 280695412

The league’s 3 p.m. CDT trade deadline has come and gone without the Vikings making a deal.

That’s not really surprising. For starters, typically the NFL trade deadline is by far the quietest of the four major American professional sports leagues. Although, there were a couple of trades today, with the one-win Buccaneers trading linebacker Jonathan Casillas to their major-league affiliates, the Patriots, and also sending safety Mark Barron, the seventh overall pick in 2012, to the Rams.

But it seemed highly unlikely the Vikings would make a deal, especially with them sitting at 3-5.

Sure, there are some areas on the depth chart that could have been patched over for the short term, but that wouldn’t mesh with the long-term plan of general manager Rick Spielman, who covets picks, in part because they allow him to move around on draft day and land the prospects he loves.

As for assets they could sell off, the Vikings did not have much to offer. Outside linebacker Chad Greenway could be playing his last season in Minnesota, but I’m not sure how much value, if any, he would have on the trade market. And while wide receiver Greg Jennings hasn’t lived up to his big contract, they would have had to eaten a super-sized cap hit next season had they dealt him. Plus, would it make much sense to trade your only veteran wide-out when developing a rookie QB?

In the end, I’m sure some phone calls were placed and received today over at Winter Park. But for a young, rebuilding team, it probably wouldn’t have made much sense for the Vikings to make a deal.

Five Vikings stats that stand out for Week 9

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated October 28th at 11:46am 280661082

Each week, beat guy Matt Vensel will highlight five Vikings stats that really mean something.

25 — pass-rush snaps for outside linebacker Anthony Barr the past two weeks.

If Barr wasn’t in the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation before Sunday, he certainly barged into it by beating the Buccaneers with a 27-yard fumble return touchdown in overtime. I get to watch Barr every day, and I’ve got to say I’m impressed not only by the fact that Barr hasn’t sat out a play since Week 3, but also the many ways the Vikings are using him. According to Pro Football Focus, Barr has dropped into coverage on 226 snaps, defended the run on 218 of them and rushed the passer on 81. Only Broncos star Von Miller has rushed the passer more among 4-3 outside linebackers. With Chad Greenway back in the lineup, Barr has been allowed to blitz more. He has 25 pass-rush snaps the past two weeks after just 18 in three games with Greenway out.

12 — times that wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was targeted on Sunday.

After four straight games with two receptions apiece, Patterson had his most productive receiving game of the season. Patterson was targeted a team-high 12 times, catching six of those targets for 86 yards. Both were season-highs. And the 12 targets were the most of his career, topping the 11 passes thrown his way in last year’s tie against the Packers. Physically, Patterson looked more explosive than he had in recent games, when he was nagged by a hip injury. But it also helped that he was going up against a zone-heavy defensive scheme that allowed him to sit down in soft spots.

three — NFL teams with three corners in the top 36 in yards per coverage snap.

The Vikings have soared to fourth in the NFL in pass defense, allowing just 212.1 passing yards per game. A lot factored into that, such as the play of the defensive front, but how about the improved play of the cornerbacks? Josh Robinson is allowing just one reception for every 12.4 snaps in coverage, which is 19th among qualifying NFL cornerbacks, according to Pro Football Focus. Captain Munnerlyn and Xavier Rhodes are not far behind at 31st and 36th, respectively. The Packers and, interestingly, the Jaguars are the only other teams with three corners in the top 36.

9.0 — run stop percentage for defensive end Everson Griffen through eight weeks.

With eight sacks in eight games, Griffen is displaying the caliber of pass-rushing prowess that could get him to the Pro Bowl. But as head coach Mike Zimmer has pointed out, Griffen is an all-around defensive end and not just a pass rusher. I’ve got a stat from Pro Football Focus to back that up. Griffen has made 16 defensive stops — not to be confused with tackles — against the run, which ranks third among 4-3 defensive ends. When it comes to run stop percentage, he ranks sixth. No wonder PFF has graded him higher against the run than they have as a pass rusher.

three — touchbacks for punter Jeff Locke during the win over the Buccaneers.

Locke, the second-year punter, had just four career touchbacks entering Sunday’s game. But he booted three punts into the end zone in what might have been his poorest performance of 2014. His touchback percentage ballooned to 9.1 percent, more than double what it was as a rookie. But while the touchbacks are a new thing for Locke, the lost field position is not. Locke has seen 52.3 percent of his punts get returned this season, according to Pro Football Focus. That is the eighth-highest percentage in the NFL. And Locke ranks 25th in the NFL with a net punting average of 38.8 yards.

Anthony Barr nominated for Rookie of the Week

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated October 28th at 11:47am 280649852

Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr has been nominated for Rookie of the Week. He’s one of five rookies nominated for the award but the only defensive player.

Barr scored on a 27-yard fumble recovery during the first play from scrimmage in overtime to give the Vikings the 19-13 victory. He also had eight tackles and a sack on Sunday.

Fans can vote here on the award. Barr is the third Vikings rookie to be nominated for the award. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater won the award during Week 4, while running back Jerick McKinnon was nominated the same week.

Access Vikings morning walkthrough: Special teams damper Zimmer's mood, Patterson is fine and more

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated October 28th at 8:12am 280635632

Every weekday, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening with the team that day.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— Head coach Mike Zimmer is not pleased with the miscues on special teams.

— WR Cordarrelle Patterson is out of a walking boot and merely has a bruise.

— DT Sharrif Floyd is adapting nicely to what Zimmer has been teaching him.

— Rookie OLB Anthony Barr’s development has been coming on nicely.

— OG Joe Berger once again showed his value in the win over the Buccaneers.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

BEHIND ENEMY LINES

— Veteran backup Colt McCoy rallied the Redskins past the Cowboys last night.

— Redskins QB Robert Griffin III remains the starter despite McCoy’s effort.

— The Redskins kept Cowboys QB Tony Romo off balance with their blitz.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

Vikings players have the day off, but some will spend it out in the community. C John Sullivan will host a Halloween Huddle party this afternoon for young patients and their families at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. A bunch of his fellow offensive linemen will join him.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

With Sunday’s win and losses by NFC teams such as the Packers, Panthers and Buccaneers, the Vikings at 3-5 are within in two games of a playoff spot with nine weeks left. And their schedule sets up nicely with the Redskins, a bye week and a trip to play the Bears before a three-game home stand. I’m not saying the Vikings are going to make the playoffs, not with the offense playing that way it is. But I’m not yet saying that they can’t. Stranger things have happened.

Cordarrelle Patterson (ankle) out of walking boot

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated October 27th at 4:18pm 280559272

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson took off the walking boot on his left foot Monday.  He said Patterson suffered just a “bruise” on his left ankle during his final kickoff return in the 19-13 overtime victory over the Bucs on Sunday.

Patterson said after the game he wore the boot just as a precaution. He remained in the game after the injury on the offense’s final drive to force overtime.

Zimmer said he hasn’t talked to guard Vladimir Ducasse yet about the knee injury that kept him out of the game. He wouldn’t give any further details on who he planned to play at right guard this week against Washington.

Zimmer also spent part of the press conference defending punter Jeff Locke, who had three touchbacks and averaged just 35.1 net yards on eight punts.

“I really think Jeff’s a good punter,” Zimmer said. ”I really do. I think he’s a very, very good punter. I think he tries to be too precise sometimes.”

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